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Huckleberry #5 Potted

Here’s where we left off with Huckleberry #5. With the fall trimming and carving done, I set it back on the bench and got busy with other chores.Flower buds on my Huckleberries are swelling, and a few are already opening. With the mild winter, I expect these trees to begin pushing foliar buds as early as February. That tells me it’s okay to pot up this specimen, which is now two years out of the ground.
First the cleanup. I brushed off the 2019 bark (it exfoliates yearly). Next was some finer carving and sealing those areas with PC Petrifier.
Next came choosing a pot. I’ve always loved this vintage Richard Robertson piece, and I thought it would work great with this tree. But when I set it in, the pot was just too long for the height of the tree.
The same thing turned out to be true of this fine Paul Katich piece. The color was great, depth was fine, it was just too long and I found out the same way as with the Robertson piece.
I think this Lary Howard pot gets me very close to where I need to be. The shorter length of the pot makes the proportions work out much better.I’d love to hear any feedback.

Harvesting A Hefty Huckleberry

It’s Huckleberry collecting time, and today I harvested a hefty one. Here it is, right out of the ground with the roots washed off. The trunk base is 2.5″ above the root crown. This is about the trunk size limit for the species, as near as I can tell. I’d estimate the age at 25-35 years.
Those of you who have followed my work for any length of time know I’m a firm believer in chopping roots hard. Why? It’s all about the bonsai pot. If you can’t get the roots you’ve chopped into a bonsai pot, with some room to spare for the new roots that are going to sprout from the cut ends, you’ve just handed yourself a big future headache! Yes, I’ve been guilty of this in the past, and more than once. But I do learn, even if it’s sometimes a slow process.So these roots are cut back enough to comfortably fit the bonsai pot this tree will go into. Is the tree at risk? Absolutely not! When you collect deciduous and broadleaf evergreen trees, you’re removing not only most of the root but also most of the branching as well. This balances the tree perfectly, so when new roots and shoots get going there’s no undue stress. The tree “wants” to live, and it does what it has to in order to live. (Note: Boxwoods are a special case among the broadleaf evergreens, in that you have to leave foliage on the branches or you risk losing them; you can thin the branching, just don’t cut back to a bare trunk or branches.)
Here I’ve reduced the trunk to its proper line. I’ve also turned the tree. Is this a better front? It does have something going for it.
This is the better front. If you compare this photo to the one above, you can see the trunk has a little curve in it from this angle and that’s definitely better. There’s also a good rootage presentation from this angle as well.

And here’s the tree potted up. The trunk is chopped at 15-16″, which should produce a finished height of about 24″ or so. I love the color and character of the trunk, and I’m confident this Huckleberry is going to be a fine bonsai in three or four years.

Let me know what you think of this specimen.

An Early Start On Collecting Season

I planted out some Parsley hawthorn whips a few years ago. True to the old adage, “first year sleeps, second year creeps, third year leaps,” this year I’ve noticed a number of the specimens have put on some heft. A few have reached my minimum for lifting, namely, a trunk base of 1″. While I’ll certainly leave most to get bigger still, it’s nice to have some smaller specimens to offer.
I’m not sure what happened to this one or when, but it’s grown itself into a raft. Nice.
Here’s the first one on the potting bench. I have to choose between two leaders, either of which would do fine. You can see I’ve got some good roots to work with. My experience with hawthorn has been that they do quite well with a lot less root than you think they need when collecting them. My survival rate through the years has been 90% or better.
Yep, not much root at all.I’m still trying to decide on the leader.
I went with the straighter one. Not sure if it would have been better the other way, but the good news is this tree will produce multiple buds where I chopped that other leader. If I want, I can grow a new leader from one of those buds. So it’s not a big deal one way or another.
And here’s the raft, all potted up. I’m thinking this is going to make a very cool bonsai. What do you think?
I lifted this Huckleberry today. I’m very excited about it. I see a round pot and foliage confined to the upper part of each trunk. It’ll take a season or two to grow the left hand trunk the way I want it, but the results should be spectacular.
I have a choice of more than one front with this specimen. Which would you choose?

A Huckleberry Bonsai For 2020

So it’s time for Thanksgiving weekend, and aside from overeating that can only mean bonsai fun for me.

I collected this Huckleberry, Vaccinium sp., this past winter. Except for minimal training work, I’ve just let it grow to get established. With the weather see-sawing back to warm (we went from 22F overnight last week to 70F overnight last night – yeah, that’s South Louisiana weather!), I figured why not learn something new.

Where’s the front? I’m not sure yet, but that doesn’t stop me from starting the trimming process. Huckleberries are vigorous growers, so I’m very confident in my design fleshing out next year regardless of what I do now.
More pruning of long stuff.
Now that’s pruned back good!
It does take a while for Huckleberries to put on some good root growth, but this one did its thing in just a year. Like I said, I just let it grow this year without trying to rush things (today’s the day to rush things, right?).
More wiring, shaping, and into a pot by Lary Howard. I switched back to this front. The leader will be cut back in spring, once it buds out at the first node. I left it long in case of dieback.I think this composition is nice. The slanting style isn’t my favorite, but now and then you come across a tree that just insists. I always like to go with the flow whenever possible.Let me know what you think. I’m personally very fond of Huckleberries.

Fall Color And Flower Buds – BC And Huckleberry

Here’s one of my landscape Bald cypresses that I’ve grown from seed since 2000. It gets bigger and better each year. Isn’t the color just terrific?
This one is just starting to put on its bronze for the year. Once the colors start, you’ve got maybe a week before the tree is bare.This tree has developed well this year – from collection in February to the initial styling and then slip-potting. It’s always nice when you can get a faster result.
I’ve got some nice red leaves on this Huckleberry. It needs a bit of a trim.
After the trim. I left a leader on the right-hand trunk alone, so it could continue to run and thicken. Once spring gets here, the growth will kick off again and that will include a lot more ramification. With more sub-branching to choose from, I’ll be able to build a better fine structure on this tree.
This tree is also getting closer to its first bonsai pot. The planting angle above strikes me as not quite as good as this one. If I do go this route, my choice of leader on the right-hand trunk will shift – but that’s why I’ve been growing two of them, so I’d have a choice. If I do go with the prominent one, it will need wiring come spring because it’s too straight (I can’t do it now for fear of cracking it, with no way for the tree to do any repair work).
And finally, check out all the flower buds! This pretty much guarantees me a decent show as spring gets close next year, not to mention some fruit toward summer. I really love growing Huckleberries as bonsai.

Looking To 2020 – Flowering And Fruiting Species

Though the holidays are not yet upon us, it’s not too soon to start thinking of 2020. A lot of the work we do now will have an impact on how our trees develop next year. Today I looked at a few flowering and/or fruiting specimens that will make great progress in 2020.This Crape myrtle was grown from a cutting made a few years ago. It’s a small specimen, but nonetheless it’s developing a nice classic Crape myrtle shape. I’ve been helping it along with some wiring, and added a little today. This one should make a nice starter bonsai this coming year.
Here’s a starter size Muscadine I lifted earlier in the season. The base is very nice, and it has a low leader than I’ll continue to let run to thicken. This is about a two- to three-year project to a bonsai pot. For now, there’s no real benefit to wiring or trunk-chopping. For vines, it’s generally best to trunk-chop in the spring when you can expect strong growth and healing.
I have grown to love Huckleberries. Not only do they flower in a pot, they fruit as well; I even ate some berries off a specimen earlier this year.This one was collected in Winter 2019. I think the tight twin-trunk configuration is pretty cool. I’ve let it grow all year with little interference; today I want to take the next development step.
So I carved down to the respective leaders on the two trunks, then put a little wire on the tree to establish a basic shape.This one is a larger specimen, having a 2″ trunk base. I anticipate a finished height of about 16″ when all is said and done.
And finally, one more Huckleberry I wired and shaped earlier in the season. This one doesn’t need any more work today, but I wanted to show you what can be done at this stage of the process. Huckleberries (blueberries) are good bonsai subjects. They do root slowly, however, so you have to take this into account. The branches also can be brittle, so some extra care is needed when you wire and shape them (you’ll inevitably crack a branch here and there). By the third year in a pot, they get really lush with growth and that’s when you can expect fruiting to begin.Blueberries also like acid soil, so remember to keep some soil acidifier handy.Let me know what you think of these specimens.